19 October Saturday

Errors in the Use of Prepositions

Dr. P.K.JayarajUpdated: Monday Nov 6, 2017

Many students who use English as a Second Language aren't sure when to use beside or besides in their writing. Can they be used interchangeably?


Beside is a preposition that means at the side of. Beside physically places two nouns side by side. Example: There was a small table beside the bed. Besides can be used either as a preposition meaning "in addition" or an adverb meaning "moreover". Besides the prize money, Charlie won at rip to Singapore.


The prepositions 'to' and 'for' are very esay to confuse! 'To' or 'for' can be used for a motive or reason, but 'to' is always used with a verb, and 'for' is used with a noun.  Examples: I came to Singapore to work. I came to Singapore for a new job. What is the difference between 'stick to' and 'stick with'? Stick to may be used to signify "cause to adhere to": stick the poster to the wall but not stick the poster with the wall. Stick with means to stay close to somebody or continue doing something. Example: They decided to stick with their original plan.


What is the difference between 'in' and 'into'? When you use 'in' you are indicating position. Example: Her iPod was in her pocket. When you use 'into' in a sentence, you are indicating movement towards the inside of something. Example: She stuffed her iPod into her backpack. What is the difference between 'in to' and 'into'? In to is the adverb in followed by the preposition to. Example: He turned his paper in to the teacher. (Turn in is a phrasal verb)


We often use for and since when talking about time. The preposition 'for' means, 'from the beginning of the period to the end of the period'; for five minutes, for six years etc.  Example: He has been living in Paris for three months. 'Since' means, 'from a point in the past until now'; since 9 o' clock, since Monday etc. Example: He has been here since 9am.  


In each of the following questions, find out which part of the sentence has an error.


1) He says that (a)/he has a car (b)/beside a scooter(c)/No error (d)


2) Mahatma Gandhi laboured (a)/to the good (b)/of humantiy(c)/ No error (d)


3) The blind man was (a)/knocked down by a car (b)/upon crossing the road(c)/No error (d)


4) In a report issued by Indian Statistical Institute,(a)/the Steel Industry is investing(b)/ more than any other(c)/Indian Industry in fighting pollution(d).


5) I found it difficult (a)/to remove (b)/the chewing gum that (c)/stuck with my cap (d)


6) My answer (a)/ is different (b)/than yours(c)/No answer (d).


7) Of all the men (a)/known to me none is (b)/less inclined than he is(c)/to think ill to others (d)


 8) Dr. James has been trying (a)/to discover a drug (b)/ for cancer (c)/for the last ten years (d)


9) As the party was going (a)/we noticed Mr. Roy fall back (b) in his chair,(c)/gasping for breath(d).


10) In this age of despair (a)/only our rich cultural heritage (b)/can help us(c)/escape to the doom (d)


11) Remya was trying for admission (a)/in the Engineering College (b)/even though her parents wanted(c)/ her to take up medicine (d).


12) All the players (a)/except Aleem (b)/were present(c)/on the playground (d)/No error (e)


13) It proves (a)/year after year (b)/that when it comes into judging new writing(c)/we are on slippery ground (d)/No error


14) This kind of behaviour (a)/has not been seen here (b)/since the last four years(c)/No error (d)


15) He is in the habit (a)/ of going out (b)/on a morning walks(c)/regularly (d)/No error (e)


  Answers: 1) (c) Replace 'beside' by 'besides'


2) (b) Replace 'to' by 'for'


3) (c) Replace 'upon' by 'while'


4) (d) Replace 'in' by 'on'


5) (d) The correct usage is 'stuck to'


6) (c)The correct usage is 'different from'


7) (d) The correct usage is 'to think ill of others'


8) (d) Replace 'for' by 'since'


9) (a) Add 'on' after going


10) (d) Replace 'to' by 'from'


11) (b) Replace 'in' by 'to'


12) (d) Replace 'on' by 'in'


13) (c) Replace 'into' by 'to'


14) (c) Replace 'since' by 'for'


15) (c) Replace 'on' by 'for'


    There are hardly any rules as to when to use which preposition. The only way to master their usage is by practice, by keeping in constant touch with them. One can look them up in a dictionary or read a lot and internalize the usage of prepositions.


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